A Global Map Of How Climate Change Is Changing Winegrowing Regions

GS Paper III

News Excerpt:

A new study suggests that the impact of climate change is changing the yield, chemical makeup, and overall quality of grapes used for wine making, leading to a shift in wine production regions as new areas become suitable for cultivating quality grapes.

Key points from the study:

  • Climate change is modifying grape production conditions and requires adaptation from growers.
  • The suitability of current wine growing areas is changing, and there will be winners and losers. 
    • New winegrowing regions will appear in previously unsuitable areas, including expanding into upslope regions and natural areas, raising issues for environmental preservation.
  • Increased temperatures are causing shifts in the timing of major stages in the grape growing cycle, such as ripening, moving them to warmer periods during the summer.
    • In most winegrowing regions around the globe, grape harvests have advanced by 2–3 weeks over the past 40 years. 
    • The resulting modifications in grape composition at harvest change wine quality and style.
  • Changing plant material and cultivation techniques that retard maturity are effective adaptation strategies to higher temperatures until a certain level of warming.
  • Increased drought reduces yield and can result in sustainability losses. 
    • The use of drought-resistant plant material and the adoption of different training systems are effective adaptation strategies to deal with declining water availability. 
    • Supplementary irrigation is also an option when sustainable freshwater resources are available.
  • The emergence of new pests and diseases and the increasing occurrence of extreme weather events, such as heatwaves, heavy rainfall and possibly hail, also challenge wine production in some regions. 

Current location of Vineyards:

  • Currently, vineyards sprawl across most of the ‘mid-latitudes’, temperate zones extending from about 30 to 60 degrees north or south of the equator.
    • They include California, the richest US state; southern (Mediterranean) France; northern Spain and Italy (Po river valley); Barossa, Australia; Stellenbosch, South Africa; and Mendoza, Argentina, among others.
    • Here, the climate is warm enough to allow grape ripening, but without excessive heat, and relatively dry to avoid strong disease pressure.

Change in the geographical locations of Winegrowing regions in Europe:

  • Perhaps the greatest change is going to be in Europe which is the primary producer of premium wine worldwide.
  • A recent study by the European Environment Agency (EEA) noted that Europe is the fastest warming continent in the world.
  • The European part of the Mediterranean littoral is going to be particularly impacted by global warming. 
    • In southern Europe, annual precipitation and summer rainfall are projected to decrease, whereas aridity, droughts and fire hazards are all likely to increase.
  • All this will impact wine production.
    • Under low levels of global warming (<2°C), most traditional wine-producing regions will maintain suitability, albeit contingent on the implementation of adaptation measures, notably in southern Europe.
    • Rising temperatures and reduced rainfall will induce severe risk of drought over south Iberia, Mediterranean France and Spain, the Po Valley, coastal Italy, the Balkan Peninsula and the southwestern Black Sea regions.
    • A severe warming scenario could spell disaster for the region’s wine industry. 
      • Most Mediterranean regions could become climatically unsuitable for wine production in such conditions.
      • Vineyards below 45° N might be so challenged that the only feasible adaptation would be to relocate to higher altitudes.
      • Ninety per cent of southern Europe’s traditional wine regions situated in the lowlands and coastal regions of Spain, Italy and Greece could be at risk of disappearing by the end of the century.

As traditional wine regions suffer, some may benefit in Europe:

  • These include Galicia on Spain’s ‘green coast’ on the Atlantic as well as the northern Balkans.
  • New wine regions are expected to expand northward, notably along the Atlantic sector.
  • The biggest beneficiary of this could be the United Kingdom. 
    • Vineyard area in the United Kingdom has expanded approximately 400 per cent between 2004 and 2021, and studies predict emerging viticultural suitability across large portions of the country.
  • Wine production would be coming back to Britain after millennia. 
    • It existed in Roman Britain, according to the researchers since “climate conditions in the Northern Hemisphere were almost as warm as the 1960-1990”.
    • Viticulture disappeared from the island in the 1500s as imports from abroad increased as well as persistent cold conditions due to the so-called Little Ice Age.

North America:

  • In North America, California, home to Napa Valley will take a hit.
    • Coastal California’s winemakers will face increasing risks of drought, heatwaves and wildfires, necessitating the proactive adoption of adaptation measures. 
    • If global warming exceeds 2°C, coastal California will transition to a very warm and arid climate for viticulture, probably resulting in a decline in wine quality and economic sustainability.
    • The same is predicted for inland and southern California.
    • Overall, the net suitable area for wine production in California could decline by up to 50 per cent by the end of the twenty-first century.
  • Vineyards in Mexico, the US Southwest and the US east coast south of New Jersey also face similar risk.

South America

  • In South America, wine production may shift to higher slopes of the Andes range under a severe warming scenario. 
    • This will include the Argentinian section of Patagonia as well as the Ecuadorian and Colombian Andes.


  • The study also estimated the risk to traditional wine regions in the extreme north and south of Africa.
  • The researchers noted that the scientific literature on future wine production in South Africa, where the wine industry is a legacy of French Huguenot settlers, is “limited, resulting in a low-confidence assessment of a moderate risk of suitability loss in both the more productive western region and the eastern region”.
  • For the North Africa section of the Mediterranean littoral (the Maghreb), the researchers predicted “a moderate-to-high risk of suitability loss”.
  • Future wine production in the Maghreb could shift to higher altitudes like the Atlas Mountains.
  • Potential emerging wine regions in Africa include the highlands of Kenya and notably the highlands of Ethiopia, where the wine industry is in its early stage of development.


  • In Asia, eastern Anatolia (Asiatic Turkiye) and the Pamir-Himalayan Mountains show potential for future wine production.


Climate change is expected to significantly alter global wine production regions in the coming years due to rising temperatures, unpredictable weather, and extreme events affecting grape quality and yields. Wine producers must demonstrate adaptability, exploring new suitable areas, adopting sustainable practices, diversifying grape varieties, and leveraging innovative technologies to navigate these changes successfully.

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